You know your confidence is low, but you’re just not sure how to build it up. Don’t worry; we all feel this way from time to time. The good news is you can do something about it.
I recently ran a workshop on building confidence for women who were transitioning back to work (or were about to) after having a baby. They were all at varying stages of this career transition, yet all of them felt uncertain about the future.
Even the most confident of us can flounder
It’s funny, isn’t it? Before you go on maternity leave, you can feel super confident about your skills and who you are. But as you enter mum life, days can go by where you don’t speak to anyone. You become so focussed on keeping this baby alive that you tend to lose a bit of confidence in your professional abilities.
One of the most powerful exercises we did is one you can do at home. I gave everyone a list of qualities and asked them to circle the ones they felt they had. Then, we thought about ways to use those qualities every day – at home and in the workplace. You see, if you play to your natural strengths every day, your confidence builds, almost by accident.
If you don’t focus on your strengths, if you don’t have a transition plan and regain some confidence, you won’t feel like you are set up for success when you do return to work. It can feel so much harder than you expected, like you can’t get anything right. No one wants that.
Try this exercise at home:
- Print the list of qualities below.
- Read through the list and highlight the qualities that jump out at you.
- Work out how to put them into practice.
Printing the list is the easy part. What may be more difficult is identifying with some of the qualities on it. Sometimes, we just cannot see our natural strengths. If this is you, ask those closest to you. Share the list with them and ask them to identify the qualities they see in you. Some qualities may surprise you (and if you don’t understand why they have chosen those qualities, ask them why and for examples). But you will soon see a pattern emerge.
What’s your pattern?
Read the list of qualities that you and others have highlighted, and really think about when you have used them. When have they come to the fore? It doesn’t matter if they’re more evident in a personal or professional setting – the important thing is identifying them.
Now, think about where and when you can use those qualities more. For example, if creativity is one of your strengths, how can you use it more in your day-to-day world? If kindness is one of your top qualities, in what ways can you use it more? Remember, a quality is like a muscle: the more you use it, the more it will grow, and the more confident you will become.
Here is a list of qualities to get you started:
|Appreciation of beauty/nature||Creativity||Critical thinking|
|Creating harmony||Detail oriented||Empathy|
|Fairness||Flexible (adapt to change easily)||Forgiveness|
|Love of learning||Mentoring||Stamina|
|Developing others||Open minded||Hard worker|
|Positivity||Problem solving||Speaking skills|
What qualities resonate with you? How can you use them more at home and in the workplace?
If you feel your confidence starting to lag, return to this list of qualities. Remember how awesome you are.
Corporate Australia still has much to do when it comes to transitioning professional women from maternity leave to work again. In the meantime, part of the responsibility falls to us. We need to stay in the loop while on maternity leave, ensure we use our return-to-work days, and keep connected with our organisations so that we can feel in control of our lives.
Maternity leave can feel lonely, but it doesn’t have to be. Check out some of our networking events like Business with the Queen to meet other like-minded women.
And if you need a chat, feel free to drop me a line
I’m Emma, and I’m a business and executive coach who believes wholeheartedly in the potential of women. My coaching philosophy is simple- taking action leads to results- and I love working with women in business and in corporate roles to take their passion and drive and transform their professional and personal lives.
Be enthusiastic, optimistic and energetic, every day.